Kedarnath Temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, present in Uttarakhand. The main deity of the temple is Kedareshwar. Moreover, it is at the highest elevation (3581 metres) among all the Jyotirlingas. The holy Mandakini (one of the tributaries of Ganga) flows near the town of Kedarnath.
It is also a part of Chhota Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand. The Kedarnath Temple remains open only for six months a year, beginning from the day of Akshaya Tritiya in March-April and closing on the eve of Karthik Purnima in November. The temple remains closed for the next six months due to extremely harsh winters.
At the beginning of the winters, the deity is taken to Ukhimath and is worshiped there for the next six months till the onset of spring.
The Temple is built of large sized rocks on a rectangular platform. Inscriptions in the Pali Language are present on the steps that lead to the Sanctum. The Temple has a Garbhagriha (sanctum) and a Mandapam. A big Nandi statue of stone is also present just opposite to the main shrine. Moreover, the Mandapam consists of statues of the Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Draupadi, Nandi, and Virbhadra. The Head Priest belongs to the Veerashaiva community from Karnataka.
What is the history of Kedarnath Temple?
As per the history of Kedarnath Temple, Pandavas performed penance here to seek forgiveness for their sins built the initial structure of the Temple. However, Shri Adi Shankaracharya built the present structure of the Kedarnath Temple in the 8th century.
According to the popular beliefs, the Pandavas were very distraught after defeating their brothers Kauravas and wanted to atone their sins. In search of moksha and divine forgiveness, they traveled through the Himalayan range searching for Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva refused to appear before them and kept on dodging their requests. He fled Kashi and appeared as a bull in a town near Kedarnath where he was detected by the Pandavas. The town is since called as Guptkashi (Hidden or Secret Kashi).
The Pandavas in search of Lord Shiva then reached Gaurikund where they spotted an unusual bull. They started chasing it. The Bull hid its face inside the Earth as Bheema pulled its tail. A tug-of-war ensued and at the end, the face of the bull landed in Nepal (Doleshwar Mahadev Temple) and other parts landed in the Panch Badri areas.
On the hind part of the Bull, Lord Shiva appeared and gave the Pandavas his darshan and forgave them of their sins. He then turned himself into a Jyotirlinga and established himself at Kedarnath.
What is the significance of Kedarnath Temple?
The significance of Kedarnath Temple is that it is the Jyotirlinga at an elevation of 3581 meters, highest among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The word ‘Jyotirlinga’ means that the Linga of Lord Shiva is self-manifested and that Lord Shiva himself turned into the Linga instead of the Linga being installed by someone else.
The Temple is also one of the Temples forming the 275 temples of the Paadal Petra Sthalams. These Temples were revered by the Saiva Nayanars (Saivites) from the 6th to 9th century. They are considered to be the greatest and powerful Shiva Temples in the world.
A pilgrim has to pass through the town of Gaurikund (18 km away from Kedarnath) to reach the Kedarnath Temple. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva cut the head of Lord Ganesha and then eventually replaced it with an Elephant’s head.
Unlike almost all the Linga of Shiva worshiped worldwide, the Linga at Kedarnath is not smooth and curved but is actually rough and conical in shape. It is believed that the historical figure of Raja Pandu (father of the Pandavas) died at Pandukeshwar, a small distance from Kedarnath. The pilgrims can touch the idol and perform Abhishekam by themselves to the holy Jyotirlinga.
What are the timings of Kedarnath Temple?
Here are the timings of Kedarnath temple:
|Morning Darshan||4 AM||3 PM|
|Evening Darshan||5 PM||9 PM|
What is the dress code of Kedarnath Temple?
The Kedarnath Temple is situated in the lush and cold valleys of the Himalayas. It is never summer here. The weather is cold for almost throughout the year. So, one should wear winter clothes like sweaters, jackets, socks, mufflers and gloves while undertaking the Char Dham Yatra within Uttarakhand.
People may experience altitude sickness here. An umbrella is a must to have in your luggage.
What are the sevas and poojas at Kedarnath Temple?
Morning Sevas: The below Poojas are performed in the morning hours between 4 AM to 7 AM.
- Mahabhishek – This Seva can take place between 4:30 AM – 6:30 AM.
- Rudrabhishek – The Pooja is for Lord Shiva in the form of Rudra. The puja wipes out all sins and purifies the atmosphere. It also removes all sorts of planetary related ill-occurrences.
- Laghurudrabhishek – This Abhishek is done to resolve issues related to health and wealth. It is also done to remove the bad effects of planets in the horoscope.
- Shodasopachar Pooja – These are the sixteen traditional steps that are performed in a Pooja ideally to any Lord.
Evening Sevas: The below Poojas are performed in the evening hours between 6 PM to 7:30 PM.
- Sahasranamam Path – The 1008 names of Lord Shiva are recited in front of the Linga and proper Pooja and Abhishekam are done.
- Mahimastotra Path – The Stotram is a Sanskrit composition originally composed by Pushpadanta in praise of Lord Shiva.
- Thandavastotra Path – There are stotrams containing 16 syllables per stotra. They describe Lord Shiva’s power and beauty to the common man.
What are the festivals celebrated at Kedarnath Temple?
Some of the festivals celebrated at Kedarnath Temple are:
- Badri – Kedar Utsav – The temple usually organises the festival in the month of June. Artists from all over Uttaranchal come together to showcase their musical talent dedicated to Lord Vishnu as well as Lord Shiva. Also, the festival lasts for 8 days.
- Shravani Annakoot Mela – The temple organises this Mela a day before the Raksha Bandhan festival. The priests cover the entire Jyotirlinga rice as well as perform several Poojas on the day. They then distribute the rice as Prasad to the devotees.
- Samadhi Pooja – A grand Pooja takes place every year on the Samadhi of the great Sri Adi Shankaracharya. Also, on this day, Kedarnath Temple closes.
How to reach Kedarnath Temple?
- Air –The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. It is 238 km away from the Temple town.
- Train – The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, situated at a distance of 216 km from Kedarnath.
- Road – One can board buses from Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Pauri, Tehri, Srinagar and Chamoli.
Where to stay near Kedarnath Temple?
Some of the places where one can stay near Kedarnath Temple while undertaking the Char Dham Yatra are:
- The Kedar Dev’s: The hotel offers facilities like front desk, room service, parking and many more. In any medical emergency doctor on call facility is also available. The hotel, with a team of skilled professionals, also ensures the fulfilment of all the needs of its guests.
- Narayan Palace Hotel: The hotel offers comfortable accommodation in 46 tastefully decorated and well furnished rooms that include 20 Deluxe rooms, 4 Super Deluxe rooms and another 4 Suites. The rooms have all modern amenities including satellite television as well as direct dial telephone. Further, the attached washrooms receive a continuous supply of hot and cold water.
- Jagirdar Guest House: It offers tented accomodation and a budget stay. Guest can enjoy breath-taking view of the great Himalayas as well as the luscious green mountains. Its also offers facilities like pick-up facility and guides on request. Guest can also avail lip-smacking food at the in-house restaurant serving Indian and European cuisines.
What are some of the temple near Kedarnath Temple?
Some of the temples near Kedarnath Temple are:
- Omkareshwar Temple, Ukhimath – The town of Ukhimath is the winter abode of Lord Kedareshwar and also the year-round abode of Lord Omkareshwar. During the winter months, when the Kedarnath Temple is closed, the idol of Lord Shiva is taken from there to Ukhimath Omkareshwar Temple where regular Poojas are carried out for the next six months.
- The Panch Kedar Temples – Besides the Kedarnath Temple, the other four temples of the Panch Kedar journey are the Temples of Madhyamaheshwar, Rudranath, Tungnath, and Kalpeshwar. They are all accessible only by trekking routes from areas such as Ukhimath, Uniana, and Rudraprayag.
- Triyuginarayan temple – The Temple is present at a distance of 25 km away from Kedarnath near Gaurikund and Sonprayag. Devotees believe that this is the place where Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati in the presence of Lord Vishnu. Moreover, the Temple is in dedication to Lord Vishnu.
- Kalimath Temple – The Temple is located en route to Kedarnath. It is 20 km from Ukhimath. According to the legends, Goddess Kali went underground at the spot after killing the demon Raktbeej. Moreover, a silver plate covers the spot where Kali supposedly entered the ground.